Phil Jackson: Stranger Than Fiction

Jackson’s impact on the Lakers was immediate. Before Jackson’s arrival, they were a young team full of talent and turmoil. The previous head coach, Del Harris, was never able to find a consistent medium between the veterans and young players, which resulted in obvious disruption. With Jackson calling the shots, the Lakers fell into place like a finely tuned automobile.

The on-court results of Phil Jackson’s coaching was nothing short of miraculous. Los Angeles won 67 games during the regular season, the second highest single-season win total in Lakers history. While this was certainly a thrill for the city of Los Angeles and Lakers fans everywhere, everybody knew that Phil Jackson was brought to Los Angeles for one reason; championships.

Entering the playoffs as the number one overall seed, the Lakers were the clear-cut favorites to bring home that elusive twelfth Larry O’Brien trophy. Los Angeles played great in the 2000 postseason, but struggled closing out series’. After jumping to 2-0, 3-0, and 3-1 series leads against Sacramento, Phoenix, and Portland respectively, Los Angeles finished 3-5 in series-clinching games.

While many teams felt this was a potential fault of Jackson’s, he knew it was nothing more than a young team finding itself in the midst of heated competition. Los Angeles reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1991, this time taking home the prize by dispatching the Indiana Pacers in a 6-game series.

Phil Jackson had done it again. It seemed almost impossible that he was able to win his seventh NBA championship in just his first year as head coach in Los Angeles. It was Jackson’s first title without Michael Jordan, which quieted many of the arguments surrounding his alleged geographical ‘luck.’

The real mystery surrounding the Lakers dynasty of the early 2000’s was why anyone questioned what would happen next. Los Angeles won two more NBA titles in 2001 and ’02, completing Jackson’s third three-peat. Throughout those seasons the Lakers faced numerous obstacles, most of which were internal.

Next: The Ugly Side of Sports

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